Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Mark Butler MP

Minister for Climate Change
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Water

Turtle power!

Media release
18 July 2013

Kowabunga! A lucky green sea turtle was released off The Strand in Townsville today by Federal Environment Minister Mark Butler following its solar-powered ‘hydro’ treatment at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Reef HQ Aquarium turtle hospital.

‘Kobi’ was brought to the turtle hospital on 15 May this year after Balgal Beach locals reported that the animal was having difficulty diving.

Mr Butler said Kobi had recovered well thanks to the special care and rehabilitation, including an immune-boosting warm bath in a treatment tank at the turtle hospital, which has cared for 152 turtles to date, with many of these returning to the wild after significant recovery.

“I am delighted that Kobi is now healthy enough to be released back into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park,” Mr Butler said.

“It is fantastic for us to see first-hand how Reef HQ Aquarium’s turtle hospital benefits these protected and iconic species of the Great Barrier Reef.

“A strong and vibrant turtle community is very important to the Great Barrier Reef and to see a rehabilitated animal return to the Marine Park is very satisfying”.

During Kobi’s recovery at the turtle hospital, Reef HQ Aquarium reached a new environmental milestone with an expansion of its solar power project by an additional 44 kilowatts, taking the rooftop photovoltaic system to 205kw (kilowatts) and over 1,511 square metres of solar panels.

Mr Butler said with funding of $1.3 million from the Labor Government for the roof mounted solar power system, it was one of the country’s largest and was helping to minimise the aquarium’s energy use and carbon footprint.

“Reef HQ Aquarium is a ‘Climate Action Business’ and is the only tourism attraction in Queensland that is a registered solar power station under the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Regulator,” Mr Butler said.

“The state-of-the-art solar power system is producing enough energy to offset between 25 and 30 per cent of the aquarium’s overall energy needs or enough to power 49 Queensland homes.

“This amounts to a 360 tonne reduction in carbon pollution per year”.

“Based on past usage rates, the energy produced by the solar power system should offset the aquarium’s energy needs by up to 100 per cent during the winter months.

Mr Butler said the use of renewable energy such as Reef HQ Aquariums solar power systems were vital to reducing our impact on the environment and acting on climate change.

“Here in Queensland, it is imperative we adopt sustainable practices to protect the environment including the Great Barrier Reef,” Mr Butler said.

“Due to climate change, we have seen rising ocean temperatures and an increase in extreme weather events, such as the Queensland summer floods in ’08, ’09 and ‘10 that have severely impacted the Reef and all of its animals.

“We must protect one of our greatest natural assets, remembering that visitors contributed almost $6.2 billion to the economy last year and 120,000 Australian jobs are dependent on the long-term future of the reef.

“A smooth transition to an emissions trading scheme in 2014 will ensure we move towards more sustainable practices with some of our biggest polluters.”